Knock Knock Knockin On Boomers’ Doors

Last night’s feeble, geriatric, reverse mortgage ‘Concert for 12-12-12′ should galvanize all to overthrow the Boomers’ tyrannical claim to pop culture center stage.

Springsteen, Rolling Stones, The Who, Concert, Sandy

$25,000 Per Ticket For A Concert Says It All

Consider the bloated, self-satisfied pricing of tickets themselves: an actual event in Madison Square Garden selling tickets for $25,000 at the box office, no scalpers. One can only imagine the Boomers’ paroxysms (without their pills, mostly psychic) induced by their Amex Black invoice. Note that the media is focused on scalpers’ Craigslist prices, not the underlying rapacity itself.

Consider the hollow rationalizations to justify such consumerism: only Boomers can afford $25,000 ticket, ergo we must endure a 1960s nostalgia concert bill. This ‘concert’ was a pretext for a celebration by the 1% for the 1%. The rubes have their trickle down role to play – call operators now.

Too cynical? Some major American cities no longer support any broad-based rock radio station. Even abhorrent ‘classic rock’ is a dying niche. The non-Boomers vote with their radio dials and dispatched rock and especially ‘classic rock’ to oblivion.

This explains the cold calculation of forward brand positioning. It’s no accident, as the Sovs used to say, that we see Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder paired with a 69 year-old Brit. Or the shoe gazing darling Nirvana’s shards with a wizened McCartney.

Gen-X, stand at attention. You, too, soon will be cogs in the nostalgia-celebration-exploitation machine. You’re just not liquid enough yet.

But What About Those Power House Rock Bands?

Springsteen and his now amorphous E-Street Band wobbled out first. Now largely immobile, Bruce tried projecting ‘sincerity’ and ‘presence’ to evoke explosive memories when they truly, but briefly, led rock and U.S. pop culture. Seeing the comparatively limber 50-year old Bon Jovi on stage in juxtapose sent a powerful, but unintended statement.

If you remember the 1970s, local FM stations pumped Pink Floyd laser shows in planetariums. Roger Waters’ few Pink Floyd stoner classics doubtlessly launched thousands of reminiscences about Boomers’ favorite college bongs. Musically, he and his band are tight. But a Pink Floyd concert never was really about just music. As the kidz today say, meh.

Bon Jovi’s set fades from memory. Mercifully. He’s not there for the $25,000 ticket class. But someone has to play to the $150 nose (noise) bleed seats and on TV. Chris Christie’s real home. You know?

Clapton, looking surprisingly spry, wisely avoided “Let It Rain”. His blues felt turgid yet too energetic to rekindle Slowhand memories of quaaludes, heroin chic and stoned immobility.

It’s Only Entertainment, Yes It Is

Then the Stones. We’ve maintained – back when it happened, not just now – that the Stones ceased to be a *good* rock band when Mick Taylor left. Even Jagger cops now and then to the fact for much of 70s they were blatantly mediocre.

As we all know, Jagger and then the other Stones switched gears with the 1981 “Tattoo You” tour. Jagger decided if they couldn’t play reliably, they’d overwhelm with spectacle. And they got very rich.

No surprise their two lackluster songs offered good visuals. “You Got Me Rockin” remains an embarrassment as when foisted on us in 1994. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” even more shambolic and anemic than usual. Still, Jagger’s supranatural gyrations ensured a lurching, creaky pageant. Appalling.

Alicia Keys gets the Billy Ocean award. You remember him? In 1985, Bill Graham organized the Philadelphia Live Aid show without any African American artists. Media confronted him. So Graham at the last minute glommed Billy Ocean on to the setlist. Ocean was forced by circumstances to lip sync bravely but pathetically his then pop hit alone in front of the JFK multitudes.

Alicia does double token duty as a woman, underscoring promoters’ original sin. Minor kudos for not choosing Betty White. Boomers might be puzzled at Keys’ brief and musically out of context set. How many watching thought “Oh, so that’s what I heard in Starbucks”? Or worse, remembered an Amex commercial.

Then The Who. Their incendiary, eruptive prime with Keith Moon continues to haunt them. Musically, this ensemble remains tight – perhaps the evening’s best. Daltrey’s voice is gone and Townshend’s low-volume Strat noodling glaringly far removed from halcyon days. The NYT loved it all.

Fellas, retire. You’ve nothing left to prove.

And so on through Kanye and Billy Joel. Kanye seemed defiantly gleeful as The Other Billy Ocean award winner. Billy Joel’s interminable set lulled Boomers to that special Hell when ‘Piano Man’ was as ubiquitous as ‘Stairway to Heaven’. For everyone else watching, the event must have seemed inexplicable.

Next, Gwyneth Paltrow’s husband’s uniquely ball-less stylings added to the bizarre. Ordinarily, Chris Martin’s Cold Play John Tesh-isms should be banned from joining these bands, debilitated or not. Martin, however, was perfect. Somehow, like Fellini-via-Simon Cowell, after everything before, the absurdity of it all invoked a certain manic, indiscriminate aesthetic abandon. Aural vandalism if you will.

Finally, McCartney. What better closing to the lunacy than a creepy, crinkled vampire trying to feast off of Nirvana’s remnants and rejuvenate his relevancy. And seduce them and their followers. Couldn’t they see his fangs?

His vampirism is a blatant warning and vision for the Gen X, Seattle shoe gazing alt rock fans. Macca’s siren call is to embrace the affluence and self-absorbed nostalgia that keeps him alive. Become the new Boomers.

It won’t be easy for Sir Paul’s victims. The old mono culture is gone. Plus, Boomers’ bubble economies are toast. But kids, you can still focus on 401-ks and equity portfolios. Because, in the words of Monty Python, “One day lad, all this could be yours.” For now, it’s sufficient to follow smiling Uncle Paul and join in the “Helter Skelter” sing-a-long — unironically, please.

Will any of the Gen-Xers on stage last night aspire to mince like this in their 70s? Inspiring their equally aged fanbase to shell out staggering sums for tickets? A huge industry is betting on it.

As grooming exercises go, surely last night’s concert marks a fine start.

Infographic – Pussy Riot Around The World

Because we do not always get the infographics we need, but what we deserve. Or something like that.

We tried to put Pussy Riot, Putin and the West in the juxtapose most familiar to a meme addled society. We think it captures the moment in Russia and the West. Clicking on the image below will produce the full size graphic. Feel free to make suggestions or comments for improvements. We can, as they say, ‘iterate this’ to reflect our consensus.

Putin, Pussy Riot, Trial, Twitter

This Isn’t Over Yet, Batman

71 people shot at the Aurora, Colorado midnight show of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Almost instantly, right wing defensive posturing over gun control hijacked a tragedy for squalid politics.

A single reporter on Good Morning America said the shooter belonged to the Tea Party (and quickly corrected). That lone report by a not very credible reporter was all the victim bandwagon needed. The Fox crew energetically speculated without reporting that it all might be related to OWS. Most of the cable teams we glimpsed, especially CNN, appeared almost but not quite celebratory. It is because they have a new cash cow narrative for ratings? Or it’s a temporary reprieve from the bleak and small presidential race? Unknown.
Batman, Aurora massacre, Rush Limbaugh

It’ll be a long time coming before we get reliable information about the shooter and his avowed motives. Pundits laugh at waiting and scramble to tell us what it all means. Most of those writers are clueless about pop culture, movies and genres but are oddly obsessed by them. Much like El Rushbo:

This evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And there’s now a discussion out there as to whether or not this is purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters. It’s gonna have a lot of people. This movie, the audience is gonna be huge. A lot of people are gonna see the movie, and it’s a lot of brain-dead people, entertainment, the pop culture crowd, and they’re gonna hear Bane in the movie and they’re gonna associate Bain. The thought is that when they start paying attention to the campaign later in the year, and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, Romney and Bain, that these people will think back to the Batman movie, ‘Oh, yeah, I know who that is.’ There are some people who think it’ll work. Others think you’re really underestimating the American people to think that will work.

“You may think it’s ridiculous, I’m just telling you this is the kind of stuff the Obama team is lining up. The kind of people who would draw this comparison are the kind of people that they are campaigning to. These are the kind of people that they are attempting to appeal to.

This tragedy reminds one of other incidents and losses. We’d like to close by remembering the sacrifice of Officer Johns. You may recall he gave his life to defend Holocaust Museum visitors. And there are others. Does this incident prompt memories for you?

Natural Disaster Summer Of Fear Edition

Share what’s on your mind. D.C. is rattled at the moment. The recent earthquake itself relatively minor. As a social lubricant? Big stuff — better than the Redskins. Plus, the upcoming hurricanes make for easy TV.

A more pervasive fear adds to tension. Only in August 2011 did the Imperial City Nomenklatura learn they are economically mortal. Their comfort while the Nation collapsed at risk. They may even be forced to share the indignity of lay offs with their subjects fellow Americans. There’s almost something biblical about the approaching reckoning.

We’ll spend some time working out initial ideas for a “The Summer of Fear” theme song. Or the Star Trek movie (Stiftung Style) we’ve mentioned before. And watch the weekend’s rain, mindful of the real oncoming storm.

JWB Shares A Summer Of Fear Theme Song Loop

Our mutual friend JWB kindly shares his initial mix of a Summer of Fear theme song. As he explains in the comments, he created this loop with specific political commentary in mind. Check it out.

JWB’s Loop

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Summer of Fear, Stiftung Leo Strauss, Guitar, Loop

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Better Them Than Us — David Brooks Lands In London Town

Poor Old Blighty. Once again a Yank (really Canadian born) “is over-hyped, overpaid and over here.” David Brooks is the darling of what passes for the British political smart set; his new book is so hot that both David Cameron and Ed Miliband are meeting him this week. Steve Hilton, Cameron’s top strategist, has invited him to hold a seminar at No 10 on Friday.

Other Brits across the political and social firmament are tripping over themselves to apply Brooksian thought to everything from clogged drains to dry skin. At last, America has revenge for the Arctic Monkeys.

Why the adulation? Like Gertrude Himmelfarb, wife of Irving Kristol and mother of Willie, Brooks’ book seeks to reinterpret the Enlightenment so as to turn it inside out as it were. Rather than a period of ascending rationality, both Himmelfarb and Brooks focus on certain British thinkers of the era who urged the supremacy of the irrational, emotive essence of mankind. Brooks approvingly quotes Hume “Reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions.”

“When we invaded Iraq we were blind to the social problems that would be involved. We didn’t realise they didn’t trust us.” Hold on – didn’t he write a New York Times column urging invasion? “I did. I was so blind about it. In that column I wondered what Michael Oakeshott [the British conservative political philosopher] would have said. He would have said: this society is very complicated and you should be circumspect in thinking about what you can achieve, and that invading to install democracy without trust is doomed. And then I wrote: ‘Having said that, I think we should invade.'”

Brooks apparently thinks the problem with Iraq was that America was insufficiently irrational with ‘street smarts’ and too rational. And his message to the UK is add some irrationality and street smarts to the government along with vague communal spirits. Don’t the Brits realize they can get all this penetrating insight for free weekly on PBS? In mercifully short 10 minute doses, too.

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Place Your Markers

We Just Came To Bomb Hello*

Kinda like this thing but there’s something you should know
we just came to bomb hello



*(revised Azure Sky video edit)

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These are dangerous times even without hype. For the first time since 1918, Waltz’ structural architecture of systemic international anarchy (defined not as ‘chaos’ but competitive positioning limited only by viable international means) puts forth a vacating chair. The Continent anticipated and feared the coming American century. The foundations of this entire blog have roots there.

We Americans, blissfully withdrawn in our own continent, focusing on accumulating capital, largely unaware of the tired Lion’s increasingly feeble efforts to maintain its seat. Wilson thusly delivered a double blow — demonstrating the Empire’s implausibility then failing to deliver American power to the systemic framework. Now it is our turn to look back at our ‘Diamond Jubilee’ (you’re welcome to nominate your own candidate) aware that the chair, to which we had become so accustomed to that it felt a very part of us, is wobbling.

It’s become oddly jejune to muse about international theory. First it was Japan (remember when Summers glommed onto that one in *1990*?). A hard case of the unipolar flu has given way to seeing nothing but China. In spite of Friedman, belatedly we Americans are beginning to realize that BRICs are not just for houses (How’s that for parody? Think it a one off? Here comes another.) We keep one hand trying to steady our chair with almost a trillion dollars a year invested in (usually recognized) negative returns through militarization in all its various guises. The other hand? Why, it’s in front of our faces, frantically searching for something secure to hold on to. (See? No sweat).

Quick, Think Fast

Some argue this moment poses risk but also presents opportunity. The Obama Administration’s merely tinkering with the momentum of the 2001-2008 disaster frustrates. These American Great Jump Aheaders urge us to see the de-stabilized Waltzian international order as Kobe Bryant looks down court on a fast break: reacting to what just passed (the old-bi-polar comfort and the briefly hellish uni-polar fever). The analogy is that the U.S. naturally reacts to reality now but seeks to shape fluid events. No excessive dwelling on the last play. (Forgive the sports metaphors. We rarely use them).

Some conversations are fanciful. Most seem unsound. Some might have strategic merit if ever we Americans reconcile national interest with ideals. And it’s not at all clear that a nominal constitutional republic premised on separation of powers will have the wherewithal to think let alone act with the necessary alacrity.

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Obama Lays Claim To A ‘Center’ He Thinks He Found

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The Right Wing Moves The Goal Posts And Obama Caves

Surprisingly statesman-like”. . . Michael Barone (4 Stars)

Chris, the inside story is he beat the Republicans at their own game!”. . . Website analyst Howard Fineman

Masterful. I have all the details in my new book.”. . . Morning Joe hanger-on Mark Halperin

Frankly, the most radically deceptive and truly dangerous moment ever to confront the American people.” . . . . Newt

We won! We own the middle now! There’s no place for Republicans to go! Our recent poll shows it’s succeeding. In the Boulder Colorado 73rd school district, a progressive candidate leads by +5, outside the margin of error”. . . . Usual Suspect Daily Kos Blogs

Isn’t it a fact — a FACT! – that if Obama didn’t move to where Republicans painted the middle, he now would be unemployed? Fact! If he didn’t become a Republican you wouldn’t have a Democrat in the White House? I have worked on the Hill as Chief of Staff of the Senate Finance Committee, Sir! I have been in the room ! You’ll pardon me if I take your dismay as just rank amateur second guessing” . . . Obvious

I just don’t get his socialism.” . . . . Jamie Dimon